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If You Could Be Mine: A Novel Hardcover – August 20, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers (August 20, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616202513
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616202514
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #551,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-In this terrific debut novel, readers meet Sahar, a 17-year-old student who lives in Tehran. She is smart and ambitious, and she has a secret that could get her arrested or even killed; she is a lesbian and is in love with her best friend. When Nasrin's parents arrange for her to marry a young male doctor, Sahar knows that she and Nasrin will no longer be able to be with each other. When desperate Sahar meets transsexual Parveen at a party given by her gay cousin, she thinks she sees a way to be with Nasrin. In Iran, it is not illegal to be transsexual, as it is to be gay or lesbian, and the state will even pay for sex reassignment surgery because it is seen as a necessary medical procedure. Sahar pursues sex reassignment, dreaming of marrying Nasrin even though she knows in her heart that she doesn't really want to become a man. As Nasrin's wedding approaches, Sahar realizes its inevitability and must decide what she is going to do. Farizan's portrayal of Sahar and her predicament is sensitive and heartbreaking. Even less-sympathetic characters, such as Nasrin and her parents, are portrayed in a nuanced manner; in the culture Farizan depicts, the girls' fears that their romantic relationship will become known are realistic and understandable. Rich with details of life in contemporary Iran, this is a GLBTQ story that we haven't seen before in YA fiction. Highly recommended.-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Teens Sahar and Nasrin have loved each other since they were young girls, but homosexuality is a crime in Iran, and the two girls could be severely punished, even executed, for their romantic love for one another. When an arranged marriage for Nasrin threatens the girls’ secret relationship, Sahar vows to take action, but what can she do? Desperate, she decides to have sex-reassignment surgery to become a man so that she can marry her friend. Surprisingly, such surgery is legal in Iran and even paid for, at least in part, by the government, and Sahar also has the caring support of a transsexual friend. Still, will she be able to follow through, and, if not, what will the future hold for the two devoted friends? Farizan’s first novel is an accomplished and compassionate look at a heartbreaking situation and the possibility of an unlikely but plausible solution. Throughout, the author presents a groundbreaking, powerful depiction of gay and transsexual life in Iran and its similarities to and differences from that of the West. An intimate look at life in modern-day Iran and its surprising Westernization, even though much of this culture is clandestine. Grades 10-12. --Michael Cart

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Customer Reviews

The ending... I liked it but I didn't.
Brandi Breathes Books
No matter what Sahar did, I was hoping she would fail, which is not something I want to be thinking about a main character.
I'm very glad I read this book and I really hope that more consider reading it.
Candace Robinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Candace Robinson VINE VOICE on October 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While one of the main reasons I picked this book up was for the LGBT factor, I found that my most favorite part of it was learning more about Iran and the people. I actually felt like I was immersed in life there and while it could have gone deeper and we could have seen more, I felt like it was just the right amount for this book. It wasn't too much to take in, especially since it's just part of the story. We see the laws and how things work just through Sahar's life and her comments. For example, when she got on the bus she said women have to sit in the back while the men are in the front, but in this case it wasn't actually a complaint, she said it was a blessing and commented on something along the lines of at least no men can grope her on a crowded bus (it was actually a little different, because Sahar is slightly crass at times, and says things very bluntly).

In the book we get to see different things, from her wealthy friend Nasrin's home and family, to her cousin Ali and his underground crew of gays, lesbians, transgenders, etc. There was variety and I appreciated that. I found that I was actually surprised at some things. One thing was that Western culture has permeated the country even though so much of it is illegal. People smuggle pretty much anything and everything into the country from illegal movies to alcohol. They have illegal satellites to watch television they aren't suppose to watch. It kind of surprised me at how much it was the 'norm' to do this. I also loved just learning a little about the culture. This wasn't something that was delved into very much, but from the meals she cooked, to the clothing they wore, it was all fascinating to me. I think it's important for stories like this to reach our teens.

I really enjoyed Sahar a lot.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Liviania VINE VOICE on August 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
IF YOU COULD BE MINE is getting some major buzz. It is one of the launch titles for the Algonquin Young Readers imprint and was highlighted at this year's BEA conference. Clearly, a lot of people are confident about this title. That gave me pretty high expectations.

Some of my expectations came from the Algonquin name. It's one that I associate with literary quality. Sara Farizan's prose is competent, but nothing special. There's a love story at the heart of IF YOU COULD BE MINE, driving its heroine Sahar's desperate decisions, but there's little passion in the words. Sahar is overflowing with emotion, but her drama is muted on the page.

Sahar is a lesbian. She lives in Iran, where she could be killed if her relationship with Nasrin is discovered. But she's willing to do anything for Nasrin, who is breaking up with her to marry a man and make her family proud. She's even willing to have a sex change, because being trans is legal in Iran. In fact, the government will even pay for the sex change in order to prevent the perversity of someone in the wrong body.

Farizan does do a good job with Sahar's dawning realization of the seriousness of a sex change. I am not surprised by Sahar's willingness to jump into it without thinking, as she is seventeen and in love and afraid for her life. I also liked the range of people Sahar meets on her journey, and that they aren't perfect. They have their own prejudices. Farizan shows where Iran is more progressive than the US - trans rights - but she doesn't shy away from where it is less.

I wish there was more Nasrin in the book. Most of her scenes involve her pulling away from Sahar and acting fairly cold. That's where the real frustration with Sahar's decisions come in.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Sowa on October 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up at ALA because the plot really grabbed my attention. Like many, I knew that homosexuality was punishable by death in Iran, but I did not know that gender reassignment surgery was looked upon in a totally different way. Sahar and Nasin are obviously in love, but bound by the cultural expectation that they will both marry men someday. In fact, this day comes much sooner for Nasrin, which sets this entire story in motion. Sahar is not a part of a larger gay community, although one does exist, she is in her own world with Nasrin. I thought this made her a bit naive about the possibility of their continued relationship, but it was an isolation that was totally understandable. In addition, I did not find Nasrin to be particularly likable, which made Sahar's dilemma even more heartbreaking. Through a cousin, Sahar is introduced to a world where secrecy is still key, but where she can be a little more open in that limited space. On top of Nasrin's impending wedding, Sahar has her own career goals and a widowed father to worry about. Her plate is full, and I really got a sense of all of the different directions that Shara was being pulled.

I think what really fascinated me about this book was the glimpse into Iranian culture. I think in the US, and perhaps the Western world at large, we are given a very politicized view of a country with a rich history and a population of people with the same hopes and dreams as anyone else. I admit that it was more open than I thought it would be, but still very closed in many ways, as you can see from the jacket copy. The idea that Sahar would have to become an entirely different person in every way in order to stay with Nasrin was such a challenging idea.
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